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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Thursday, May 28

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Daily Covid-19 Brief: Thursday, May 28

Each day, our Public Policy team will be reporting on the latest news in the evolving situation. To view the previous day’s summary, please click here.

Scotland and England officially launched their track and trace systems

  • From today, if people develop Covid-19 symptoms in England and Scotland then they must book a test immediately and isolate themselves – the aim is for all results to be returned within 24 hours.
    • If the test is positive, the individual will then hear from a tracer who will ask them about recent face-to-face contacts, within their household or less than two metres away from for 15 minutes or more.
    • In Scotland, first minister, Nicola Sturgeon urged employers to “protect the income” of their staff who require to self-isolate.
    • Sturgeon said she is in ongoing discussions with the UK government around changes to statutory sick pay to make sure that people don’t lose income, and has suggested that the Scottish government could provide hotel rooms free to those who need to isolate away from their families.
    • Northern Ireland already started a contact tracing programme in mid-May involving all confirmed positive cases of Covid-19. Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride previously said he estimated 300 to 600 staff would be needed as part of the contact-tracing scheme
    • Wales plans to start its contact tracing programme from 1 June.

Scottish government have announced an easing of Covid-19 restrictions to come into effect tomorrow

  • From 29 May, people in Scotland will now be able to meet with members of one other household at a time.
    • This must happen outdoors, in a park or private gardens, and while observing social distancing, and the total number of people meeting up should be a maximum of 8. There is also a strong recommendation not to meet more than one other household per day.
    • Sitting or sunbathing in parks will be permitted, as will many outdoor non-contact sports including golf, fishing, tennis and bowls.
    • People will be allowed to travel for recreation or visits.  A legal limit will not be put on how far people will be allowed to travel for recreation but the Scottish government have issued “strong advice”  to stay within five miles.
    • In terms of business, most outdoor work that has been put on hold can resume. Garden centres and recycling facilities are also allowed to reopen, while takeaway and drive-through food outlets will no longer be discouraged.
    • The construction industry can also start site preparation in the first phase of its restart plan.
    • From 1 June, teachers can return to schools to prepare for the start of the new school year on 11 August. And from 3 June, child minding services and fully outdoor nurseries will begin to re-open.

Northern Ireland executive have announced a series of proposed lockdown relaxations

  • From 8 June, small weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will be permitted outdoors, with no more than 10 people present
    • Outdoor sports courts, horse trainers and dog groomers can also reopen
    • Hotels will be able to take advance bookings, for when they can reopen again
    • Large non-food retailers can reopen, including car showrooms, electrical shops and phone shops
    • The steps will only be introduced on 8 June if the scientific evidence indicates that the virus continues to be suppressed.

Other UK COVID 19 news 

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that in England, from 1 June, up to six people will be able to meet outside, providing members of different households continue to stay two metres apart. This will be allowed in gardens and other private outdoor spaces.
  • Durham Constabulary has concluded that Dominic Cummings’ trip from London to Durham did not break the rules. However they concluded there “might have been a minor breach” of lockdown regulations when he made a journey from his parents’ property in Durham to the town of Barnard Castle. They said it views “this as minor because there was no apparent breach of social distancing” during the trip. It said it would not be issuing Cummings with a fine.
  • The Gatwick Express – the fast rail service between the airport, London’s Victoria Station and Brighton – has been suspended “until further notice” due to a sharp fall in the number of passengers at the airport. However Southern and Thameslink trains are still running to and from the airport.

World COVID 19 news

  • In France, nearly 850,000 people became jobless in April, raising the total to more than 4.5 million the highest since records began in 1996.
  • 2.1 million more Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the last week. Since mid-March, almost 41 million Americans have lost their jobs – about a quarter of the US workforce.
  • The US economy contracted 5% in the first 3 months of 2020 the steepest decline since 2008.
  • The World Food Programme have said almost 14 million people could go hungry in Latin America and the Caribbean this year, as a result of the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • South Korea has tightened restrictions in the metropolitan area of Seoul after a spike in infections. Restrictions had been lifted across the country on 6 May after the outbreak appeared to be brought under control. However, officials have recorded the biggest spike in infections in nearly two months, prompting the closure of museums, parks and art galleries in the Seoul area for two weeks.
  • Over a third of European foreign direct investment projects announced in 2019 have been either delayed or cancelled outright because of the Covid-19 pandemic, an annual survey by professional services group EY found.
  • International tourism is expected to fall by 70% this year, this biggest slump since the 1950s, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The drop is based on the assumption that all countries will reopen their borders to foreign visitors from August.

Private sector updates

  • Pret a Manger will reopen 204 more stores for takeaway and delivery from 1 June, taking its UK total to over 300 open stores.
  • EasyJet plans to cut up to 4,500 jobs, around 30% of its workforce, due to the collapse in demand for air travel.
  • Cineworld and Odeon are preparing to reopen their UK cinemas in July, assuming lockdown restrictions have been eased by then. Cineworld said it would plan to open all of its 128 cinemas.
  • Harrods plans to open a second store in Westfield to prevent overcrowding at its Knightsbridge store when it reopens.
  • Cambridge University, the richest UK University, is seeking financial support from the Government, as it faces huge losses due to an expected drop in the number of international students whose high tuition fees are used to subsidise research and teaching costs.
  • Virgin Media will not reopen its 53 high street stores post lockdown, and will offer its staff other roles in the firm.
  • The National Trust is reopening some of its gardens and parklands on 3 June, although visitors will have to book an appointment in advance to visit.
  • Tui has extended the suspension of holidays for UK customers until at least the end of June. The tour operator had previously cancelled all trips up to June 11.
  • GlaxoSmithKline has announced plans to produce 1 billion doses of vaccine efficacy boosters, known as adjuvants, next year.
  • The Premier League is set to return on 17 June after all 20 clubs agreed to come back.

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